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bone or brass??nut for bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by dropbass, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. which is better ive liked bone have graphite now hate it want to get one cut but which is better? thanks
  2. jsm81


    Jan 25, 2008
    I've never used a bone nut, but I did change the plastic nut on my bass to a brass nut, and it definitely made in improvement on my open notes.
  3. decuchi2334


    Feb 4, 2008
    I've used both. I like brass.
  4. spc


    Apr 10, 2004
    South of Boston
    Why don't you like the graphite one?
  5. notenslaved

    notenslaved I survived the 80's only to see it return.

    Feb 13, 2008
    Connecticut, USA
    Bone and graphite seem to have a similar sound - it's a subtle difference between them that I bet many wouldn't notice unless they A/B'd them.

    Brass is richer and seems to sustain open strings longer, or maybe it just transmits vibration to the neck better.

    All of the above is opinion and not fact :)
  6. doktorfeelgood

    doktorfeelgood layin' it down like pavement Supporting Member

    With brass you have to make sure that it's a good type of brass for a nut. All brass is not alike and some won't sound good. I can't tell you myself what type you need, but I have talked to a friend of mine who was working with Ken Fisher (of Trainwreck amp fame before Ken died) on an electric resonator guitar project about brass nuts and he knows all about this stuff. You should talk to a good reputable luthier before you have a brass one made. As far as bone nuts, I have considered getting one cut for my Jazz bass to replace the Micarta one that came from the factory but I will probably go with Tusq (man-made ivory) if I actually make a change. I don't trust the possible inconsistancies with soft spots in bone nuts that could translate to different tone characteristics. I could be stressing over minute stuff here, but that's why Tusq was invented. I have a Mexican made Special Edition Jazz bass neck on my P-bass that has a Tusq nut and it's excellent. Much better sounding than the Micarta nut on my 2006 Highway 1 Jazz bass. )-(
  7. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Anything that transmits vibration actually reduces your sustain. More isolation equals more sustain.
    physics and Flad like this.
  8. kalle74


    Aug 27, 2004
    really? would a nut made of rubber or foam add more sustain? don´t think so...
    TerranTheMoose likes this.
  9. eddbassman


    Feb 28, 2008
    I've never used Ivory,
    My 5er is plastic, but my Epiphone explorer has brass, it has fantastic sustain and sound.

    I say brass
  10. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Totally different thing. You're not transmitting vibration or islolating it with rubber or foam, you're taking ALL of the vibration. Its a vibration sink. It takes all all the energy from the strings vibration but due to the material doesn't isolate the moving string nor does it pass that vibration on.

    From a physics perspective, the less transmitted vibration, the more energy stays with the moving string, therefore making it ring longer.
    CooWoo, MichaelT and Flad like this.

  11. its a just a nut from warwick and doesnt contact with the head and i feel the bass would have more balls(ie resonance punch etc...) with bone or brass and being fully attached to the neck.
  12. cool thanks everyone
    for all the info...im prob gonna eat it and have one cut from bone just dont like being without my bass for weeks at a time....guess ill play the back up lol....
  13. parsons


    Feb 22, 2008
    Yes but at a certain point in the curve a softer material would inhibit the sustain. You cannot attest a theory if you only compare object As effect to object Bs without also comparing how object B will affect object As properties.
  14. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Its about mass rather than hard soft.
  15. LowBSix

    LowBSix Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2008
    818 ~ 805 ~ L.A.
    Endorsing Artist: GHS Strings
    I prefer BRASS IMHO....because open strings sound more like a fretted string.... Very Even
  16. EaglePoint


    Jan 25, 2009
    Actually, it has nothing to due with either. You were right when you said "the less transmitted vibration, the more energy stays with the moving string, therefore making it ring longer," but the retainment of mechanical energy has more to do with the Young's modulus of the nut then anything else.

    Young's modulus (or Modulus of elasticity, or MOE, as some people call it) of an object is how much the object deforms under loading i.e. a vibration in one location while another location is anchored. if the MOE of the nut is high, the nut will deform less, therefore absorbing less energy, meaning more energy is being transfered into the wood and remaining in the string, instead of being absorbed and dampened by the nut.

    Young's modulus of bone is 12-17 GPa
    Young's modulus of brass is 95 - 120 GPa
    Young's modulus of rubber is ~1.2-2 MPa (one hundredth that of bone)

    Brass, having the highest MOE, also has the highest sustain, and will dampen higher frequencies/harmonics least, meaning your tone may sound brighter (but it also depends on the woods you use).
    MichaelT likes this.
  17. You mean the warwick Just a nut III, the JanIII is awesome, it did wonders for the resonance and sustain on my cheapo 5ver which had a solid compressed plastic nut, I think the "floating" of the JanIII adds to the sustain.
  18. Low Main

    Low Main Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2004
    I have not had good luck with the Just A Nut, and there are some players that get rid of the J.A.N. on their Warwicks ASAP.

    I guess there are different versions of the J.A.N., and some are better than others.

    The nut material only matters for open string notes IME, in terms of how it affects the sound.

    I was prepared to not like plastic nuts, but I've worked on several basses that had them, and I couldn't really find anything to object to about them.

    Some years ago, I saw a Sadowsky that had a wooden nut, so I made one and tried it, and that's what I use now.

    The densest woods, such as African Blackwood (harder than ebony), are plenty dense enough to use as a nut and get a good result.

    Using wood, I get a wide variety of material to choose from, and the nut is easy to dimension and fit to the neck, and easy to slot for the strings. You can always harden the string slots with a wash coat of thin super glue if you want.

    For fretless, it's hard to set up the neck so the open notes sound like the "fretted" notes. I have to go to a much softer wood in that case. Even maple is too hard and makes the open notes too pingy compared to the "fretted" notes. So for fretless I usually use teak (which is dense, but also soft and stringy).
  19. John Wentzien

    John Wentzien

    Jun 25, 2007
    Elberta, AL
    Artist:TC Electronic RH450 bass system (original test-pilot)
    Another "TUSQ" user here.
    I always liked bone, But this stuff is tough as nails. And sounds better than bone.
    My bridge saddle are TUSQ also. great stuff!
    You can get pre-slotted tusq nuts also. Just have to "fine tune" them.
  20. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    I hate brass. I managede a guitar store from 1977-1988 so I was in the middle of the brass craze. I put a LOT of brass nuts on guitars and basses. The only thing they do in my estimation is ruin the character of open strings. They may add sustain to an open string, but it's pretty much defeated the reason to use an open string anyway. And they don't do squat on fretted notes, despite the assertion that was their main selling point back in those days.

    But a brass nut cut properly is alwasy better than a bone or synthetic nut cut poorly. And the bottom line is that just about no mass-market company does a decent job of nuts, let alone doing it correclty. And there's the whole fallacy of a pre-cut nut being right for every instrument. Cutting a nut isn't really hard, it's just time consuming and painstaking. Learn how to do it yourself. You can get a pre-cut one to alleviate having to space the slots evenly yourself, but learn how to cut the slots correctly and you'll be able to solve about a third of your set-up problems right there.